Self Publishing, Why and Why Not

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This article was first published in the Susan Finlay Writes blog on May 1st, 2015 The link is

Back in the old days, “self-publishing” had a bad reputation, and writers who engaged in it were written off as losers who couldn’t find a reputable publisher to publish them, or an author’s agent to represent them. Almost as bad were authors who used the so-called “vanity” publishers, who would publish anything you sent them . . . for a price.

Things began to change quickly when began selling books in 1995. A little later when browsing around a software shop, I stumbled across a program from Blue Squirrel called Quickbooks, that claimed to turn a manuscript into a printable book in one simple click. In fact it promised, and still does, to do more than that: “You want to print books, and you don’t want to spend a lot of money. With ClickBook, design with Microsoft Word or any program you know and like. ClickBook turns your work into a book, brochure, catalog, bulleting, poster, banner or PDF.” I bought it, took it home, put a manuscript on it, and was in business. It was, and I think still is, the best program out there that does what it does. I published with Tortoise & Hare Publishing (my trade name), and in the next several years, I had published, and placed on Amazon, a collection of short stories (“Fernandez’ Tale and Other Stories”), a poetry collection (“Seeing, Collected Poetry 1973-1999”), a book titled “Living and Working in the 21st Century), and a half dozen or more booklets that I marketed on Amazon and in the bookstore of a mental health clinic where I had an office. One of those booklets, “Being Here, exercises for renewed living” is still available on Amazon.

There were hundreds of authors doing exactly what I did. And then 2006 came along with eReaders like Kindle and eBooks exploded onto the scene, opening the market to thousands of authors. From that point and for the next several years, my books were published by eBook publishers like Abbott ePublishing, Night Publishing, then Taylor Street Publishing. When it began closing down in 2013, I had to ask myself a question: Do I want to go with another Indie publisher, or do I want to resuscitate Tortoise & Hare and publish myself?

The problem with so many Indie publishers is that they come and they go, some in only a few months, leaving their authors wondering what to do with the books they’ve published, the books they have waiting to be published, and their works-in-progress. The decision I made with a book I was working on — “The City Has Many Faces, a love story about Mexico City” — is that I would publish it myself. The advantages are many: No matter what happens to me, my book stays published; I have a record of royalties earned; I earn all the royalty, not just what’s left after my publisher takes what it has earned; I find editors and beta readers; and I do the marketing (which I have to learn). The main disadvantages have been learning the technology (formatting for Kindle and CreateSpace, learning Scrivener), and doing all the budgeting and record-keeping that goes with running a business. (I thought I had retired from all that.)

How do I feel about it? To be honest, rather ambivalent, because there is so much to do. Ask me that in six months and I may have a new answer. For now, I promote my Mexico City book, which has so far received eleven 5-star reviews and one 4-star review, and I am delighted.

Author bio:

George Polley began writing in the mid 1960s. His short stories, Jonah’s Birth, Requiem for Blue, The Storm, and The Disappearance were published in literary magazines. His poetry has been published in a number of literary magazines, including The North Country Anvil. Another story, Seiji, was included in A Rainbow Feast: New Asian Story Stories, edited by Mohammad A. Quayum and published by Marshall Cavendish Editions, Singapore in 2011.

Until early 2008, George Polley fit his writing around a busy mental health career, from which he retired at the end of 2007. From Seattle, Washington (US), he and his wife moved to Sapporo, Japan, in early 2008, where he writes full-time. His novella The Old Man and The Monkey, was published in 2010; his novels, Grandfather and The Raven (2010), Bear, a novel about a boy and his unusual dog, (2012), and The City Has Many Faces, a love story about Mexico City (2014). A fourth novel, Bear in Trouble, an Andy and Bear Mystery has yet to be published.


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About gwpj

Originally from Seattle, I now live in Sapporo, Japan, where I write, explore this city, read widely, and ask questions about things that i see as important. I'm also an author, with three novels published ("The Old Man and The Monkey", "Grandfather and The Raven", and "Bear: a story about a boy and his unusual dog"). For more information about my writing, drop by my website, at
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